Turkey unemployment rate rises for first month in four

Turkey’s jobless rate rose to 13.7 percent in the three months to January, climbing for the first time in four months, as the lira weakened against the dollar and demand for exports softened.

Unemployment increased from 13.3 percent in the three-month period ending December, according to data published by the Turkish Statistical Institute on Tuesday. It had stood at 13.5 percent in January last year.

Turkey’s government is seeking to stimulate the economy with cheap loans from state-run banks, tax cuts and lower central bank interest rates after a currency crisis in 2018 sent economic growth into a tailspin. The government targets an expansion of 5 percent for 2020.

Non-farm unemployment, which includes industry and services, climbed to 15.8 percent in January from 15.4 percent in December. The rate was 15.6 percent in January last year.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment fell to 13.1 percent from 13.2 percent in December.

Youth unemployment rose to 25 percent in January from 24.5 percent the previous month. It had hit a record high of 27.4 percent in September.

The Turkish lira has declined by more than 6 percent against the dollar since the start of December, rendering companies’ foreign currency loans more difficult to repay and hurting spending power. A global economic slowdown, enhanced by fears over the spread of the coronavirus, is also paring demand for Turkish exports.

Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said this week that the economy may grow by more than 6 percent annually in the first quarter of the year.